06 Sep 2012
The fact that the House of Commons has been back in action this week has provided lots of material for the lobby journalists, including James Landale. On the BBC’s Westminster Hour on Sunday, he cheekily referred to MPs returning from their “long recess”. Well, the reporters may have had a long holiday but most MPs have had a short break and a lot of time working on constituency matters. It’s a time for a refreshed start, for hard work and lots of local meetings and casework.
Now we’re back the times they are a-changing in terms of the sittings hours, but it’s simply not possible to reconcile the inevitable difficulties that arise when 650 MPs commute from all over the country. When I arrived in 1987, Parliament started at 2:30pm on four days a week and often sat through the night – frequently until 7am but sometimes through to 2pm the following day. Until the House adjourns it is still ‘yesterday’, and if it sits past 2:30pm, it doesn’t ‘become today’ and you have to wait for tomo